5 Reasons UK Restaurants are Ready to Adopt Technology
It’s no secret that the last few years have been turbulent in the UK hospitality industry. Rising costs, reduced consumer spending, and labor shortages create a challenging environment across the sector. Growth in 2018 is expected to slow to just 1.5%. Despite their negative metrics, these problems have led to a remarkable rise in technology as operators seek to either streamline workflows, reduce the staff bill or entice customers into their restaurants. This situation presents an ever-evolving challenge to operators about which technology to choose or if to invest at all. In these uncertain times, here are five reasons why UK restaurant are ready for technology and how it will boost profits and reduce costs:
The customer journey starts both before their visit and extends to the time afterward. With off-premise dining increasing across the sector, maximizing every customer visit into a positive experience is critical. Loyalty programs and slick website design offer great ways to entice customers into your venues and when you integrate them with smart technology, you can make for a personalized experience. Operators who invest in a system that adapts to customers based on prior dining habits can see a remarkable uplift in foot traffic. Combine this with mobile ordering and payment and you’ll see an increase in spend-per-head is the result. Furthermore, adding enhanced, dish-specific feedback into this mix is a powerful way to tailor the experience to your customers.
Understanding your customers and their experiences have never been as important as it is in the modern era. A shoddy experience can turn ever your most loyal customers off your brand. Operators should utilize technology not just to resolve operational issues but to enhance service and the guest experience and ensure future visits. Having this data available will allow you to react and adapt to your customers’ changing needs. An excellent example of proper data use would be menu engineering to create an offering your staff can cook consistently and quickly. You can use a data capture for those current menu items, like actual vs. theoretical cook times, to refine and enhance the speed of service. Data can drive best practice and help you make the most of peak trade while offering an experience for which diners will return.
With almost full employment and the looming issues surrounding Brexit, getting enough high-quality staff can be difficult. However, technology can simplify operations helping to de-skill critical areas of the business without affecting the product offering’s quality. Kitchen Management is an exceptional example of this; a dynamic system can reduce the complexity of running a kitchen at peak, freeing up a head chef for other duties. This allows you to place a less-skilled chef in the same position. You can also use these systems to train new team members on the job through videos and recipe cards. This standardization minimizes the impact of high staff turnover in the kitchen. It also helps cut critical spending and stress in your workforce.
Consumers’ demands are changing. With restaurant delivery primed to be the biggest contributing industry growth factor, off-premise-friendly UK operators will be ready. Too often, a restaurant sets up “mission control” style setups by the pass, with three different delivery partners accepting orders on a tablet, entered into the Point of Sale and then collated for collection. This arrangement often takes considerable amounts of resources, detracting from the diner experience. Better communication between systems, or even a cross-platform integration tool, can reduce the labor needed to fulfill these orders. Delivery partners that send orders directly to the Point-of-Sale that send directly to a kitchen display system can confirm the food creation time with no manual process. This offers a quick ROI and speeds up the food delivery process.
Investing in technology requires a hard evaluation to understand its benefits. Providing customers with more ordering options is key for growth in a demanding and discerning environment. These options range from delivery, third-party vendors or through apps and kiosks. Really, the most important part of this is connectivity, and a key driver to any partner choice should be integrations. A good partner will be open to collaborations, and won’t seek to monopolize every aspect of your restaurant tech. Best of breed solutions that are fully integrated will give an operator better insights and reduce manual processes. Only a fully integrated system can futureproof your restaurant for the challenges ahead.
The Darwin Brasserie recently made the jump from using paper tickets to an automated kitchen system. Read our case study on how they used it to calm kitchen chaos and heighten the guest experience.
About the Author
Nick Brown heads up Business Development for QSR Automations in the UK. Nick lives around west London (where he’s spent his life) and considers himself a bit of a foodie. When not at the latest restaurant, you can find him occasionally jogging or (more likely) binge-watching the most recent Netflix series.